MONDO EXTRAS

Fall Pilot Season 2011: Prime Suspect

by Ethan Alter September 23, 2011
Fall Pilot Season 2011: Prime Suspect

For me anyway, the biggest question facing the U.S. remake of the seminal British crime series Prime Suspect isn't, "Why" -- it's, "Why now?" I mean, it's been 20 years since the first Suspect serial made its debut on the UK airwaves and in that two-decade span, many of the show's most groundbreaking elements -- including the notion of a deeply flawed female cop as the central protagonist, the gritty storytelling and the often shocking crimes themselves -- have been appropriated by countless other procedurals and cop dramas on both sides of the pond. Besides that, it's almost unfair to ask any other actress to follow in the footsteps of Dame Helen Mirren, whose iconic performance as DCI Jane Tennison elevated her career to new heights. But in their infinite wisdom, the overlord of American television decided to push ahead with a remake and here we are. Let's find out what series developers Peter Berg (who also directed the pilot) and Alexandra Cunningham (who wrote the teleplay) have come up with...

Titles -- the words "Prime Suspect" printed in bold block text against a solid black background, just like the title card that opens to the original's first series. So far, it's got my attention. Fade in on Maria Bello's NYPD detective Jane Timoney jogging past some cherry blossoms in what I'm almost certain is Central Park. A quick word about Bello: of all the actresses they could have drafted to take on the thankless task of "replacing" Helen Mirren, she's by far the most interesting choice. Though she's made her fair share of bad movies over the years (Coyote Ugly -- c'mon, you know it sucks -- Shattered and that third Mummy to name a few) she's almost always a compelling screen presence and generally fearless when it comes to playing emotionally (and physically) revealing material, as anyone that has seen her performances in The Cooler and A History of Violence can attest. In that way, she's very much like her predecessor, who also has cultivated a reputation as a risk-taker. Anyway, Timoney is going for a morning run, but is regularly interrupted by coughing fits. Not the "Just getting over a cold" kind of coughing fits, but the "I'm trying to quit smoking and boy are my lungs pissed off" kind of coughing fit. I'd say I know how she feels, but I honestly don't. Ask me how you feel after staying up all night watching the entire Hellraiser series and I'd be able to give you a pretty accurate description, though.

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